How do you keep birds off solar panels without a gun?! Having scared off quite a few birds in his time, is Clean Solar Solutions Managing Director ‘Solar Steve’ the world’s greatest bird deterrent???!!! With that hat on, maybe, but we couldn’t keep him on the roof of this B&Q distribution centre in Swindon 24/7, so a more permanent solution was needed! The videos below show what we installed instead of him!
“How can I keep birds off my solar panels?”
This is a question that more and more solar array owners are asking. If birds are nesting under your solar panels or if seagulls are peppering your solar panels with droppings, you know what a nightmare they can be! Clean Solar Solutions provide bird deterrents for residential solar panel systems, but in this instance, we look fitting bird deterrents on the roof of a large commercial rooftop solar array in Swindon for B&Q.
This 2.7MW array is made up of 11,134 solar panels and the local gull population had grown and were resting on the roof each day. The mess that these birds were creating across the entire solar array with their droppings was epic! Keep reading to find out how over 2 million hotspots were on this array!
What Bird Deterrents Were Fitted To Protect The Solar Panels?
Due to the gulls being an established colony, Clean Solar Solutions brought out two differing deterrents from their arsenal. These deterrents are designed to make the roof such an unpleasant environment, that the birds do not wish to settle on the roof in the first place.
We fitted 18 wind-driven bird deterrents which are random, flash light and alternate colours that are harsh to the birds eyes. The flashing from the spinning deterrents can be seen and from the air and across the roof. If the birds do decide the rest on the panels despite this, they won’t be there long.
Working in tandem with the spinning bird deterrents are 3 base units, each loaded up with 4 directional speakers and 8 satellite speakers each that will blast across the roof over 60 audible frequencies, pulses, tones and beeps, with random blast times and pause times between blasts.
Combined these spinning, flashing and audible bird deterrents make the roof an unpleasant place to be. The gulls will now be bombarded with random light and sound, both of which they do not like, reducing the chances of the birds wanting to rest on the roof. Turn your speakers UP TO FULL before clicking the video below!
What Effect Will Fitting Bird Deterrents Have On The Solar Panels?
Cleaning solar panels that are covered with this volume of bird droppings is a mammoth task. By reducing the amount of birds on the roof, you reduce the amount of bird droppings on the solar panels, the solar panels become easier to clean and stay cleaner longer, the out and revenue from clean panels increases also.
O&M contract budgets being as they are, often only one clean a year is accounted for, but this is nowhere near enough if you have a local bird population that rests on your roof. Without bird deterrents being installed on the roof, more than one clean per year may be needed. If your O&M budget constraint is only for one clean per year, then a one-off cost of installing bird deterrents to guard over the solar panels will be a worthwhile cost.
By fitting the bird deterrents, B&Q will enjoy the following:
- Increased output from the solar panels being cleaner for longer
- Reduced DC cabling issues
- Reduction in broken panels due to birds dropping foreign objects on to the solar panels
- A reduced annual gutter cleaning bill
What Damage Can Birds Cause To Solar Panels?
Damage that they can create includes:
- Hotpotting and long-term cell failure from bird droppings
- DC cable damage
- Depositing foreign objects on the solar panels
- Blocking gutters
Well, the obvious first issue is the bird droppings. Bird droppings create individual hotspot points and in the case of this Swindon distribution centre, it is hundreds of thousands. There are 11, 134 solar panels on the roof in total and if each of these solar panels had just 10 bird droppings on, that would create over 111,000 hotspots! However, having analysed photographs of a random selection of solar panels across the site, we see that there is an average of 3 major bird droppings per cell on these 60-cell panels.
With an average of 180 major shading points larger than a 10p coin per panel, that creates an eye-watering 2,004,120 major hotspots across this 2.7MW site!!!
This not taking into account other minor bird dropping spatter marks and other causes of shading that we will go on to discuss. Did bird deterrents need to be fitted on this site? Absolutely!
What other issues do the gulls create? Cable damage. Gulls peck and pull at DC cables, yanking them out of the cable trays and leaving them strewn all over the top of the solar panels. Protecting cables from gulls is important because they have the potential to peck through the sheath of DC cable and be electrocuted and the dead bird themselves then create another sizeable hotpot point on the panels and you also have bare DC cable, which carries risks and may not be easy to detect.
Gulls also have a voracious and varied appetite. They eat all kinds of things and that has to come out somewhere! You simply wouldn’t believe what we see in seagull bird droppings! However, they also have a great appetite for collecting stuff. As a result, we see all kinds of things on solar panels, such as plastic and metal objects, fish carcasses and other animal bones. These again create hotspots on the solar panels.
Furthermore, sizeable gull populations generate A LOT of guano! This quickly and efficiently blocks industrial guttering, even when that guttering is 2’ wide! It soon fills with droppings! As a result, B&Q have a regular program of gutter cleaning, with this being carried out several times per year, mainly due to the levels of bird droppings from the birds.
If you are a building owner and require bird deterrent fitting or an O&M contractor, needing to find a bird deterrent solution for your client, please feel free to contact us.